Dealing with the Haters, Means Dealing with Myself.

Realizing I’m an Asshole, I’ve Always Been an Asshole, I’m not Sure I Will Ever Stop Being and Asshole, So Help Me God, and thank you true friends/family for loving me despite my being an asshole.

In the development of what is now Losing Our Religion.  I have had people be upset with me, angrily post things on social sites at me, and some call me all sorts of things like heretic, church hater, dangerous and the like.  Someone once asked me, "How do you deal with all the digital persecution?

LOL.  "Digital Persecution," that's probably the best way to put it.  I have never been persecuted.  Compared to being martyred, torn from my family, or imprisoned, it's not a big deal. 

I have to realize I have been an asshole my whole life.  I get passionate about things, and there are those that I have clearly hurt with my passions.  Especially in my past religious douchebaggery.  Even though my last four years have been a huge learning curve of detoxing from the American religious machine.  I realize I still have more to learn, ways to grow, and parts of my life still to be transformed.  I have to realize that no matter what I do to change, people from my past, and current life will still hate me.  

I have packed my bags for what I am now calling the four-year apology tour many times, crying with people as they forgave me.  It continues to be a beautiful ride and a never ending tour.  It seems the LOR Podcast has me packing my bags for another tour as many have heard my story and reached out to me thanking me for posting it because it helped them to stop hating me.

Some people like "Crashandburn611”.  Who lash out at me in text messages, then blog comments, and then Instagram, and now iTunes have a right to do so.  They hate me.  It's a country where we are allowed to hate, and we can all hate who we want to hate to a point.

The problem with hate is that it leads to worship.  It leads to us doing nothing but focusing on the person or thing we hate, and no matter what we do, we just can’t get that person or thing out of our minds.  The hate begins to rule us, consume us, we then lose our power to stop thinking about it, to live without it, we become it’s victim.  Stuck in a cycle of worship of the thing we hate.  It or they linger on in our mind as a computer virus, impossible to shake.  This is worship; this is a religion.  A religion of hate.

It’s hard not to respond to peoples hate against us.  In fact when the hate has been directed towards me in the past, I have lashed out to defend myself.  In fact just a month ago, after trying to reason with him, asking him to sit down, share his grievances with me, and us talk it over, him refusing.   I then tried to defend myself to him.  I got hurt, and let the hurt turn into defense. His texts then turned to harassment and without knowing what else to do I finally blocked him.

But then I quickly realized, that I too get caught up in hate worship.  Not at myself, but towards the person who is hating me. So the only healthy thing I have found to do is to let them hate me.  Let them pour out their hate on me.  Let them lash out at me, because responding to the hate only deepens my own pain, and only makes me hate them.  Then I lose control of my emotions, lose control over my focus, and begin only to meditate on the person attacking me, the person I am beginning to hate.

From all of Crashandburn611's communication to me, it seems he just wants to hurt me, and he has.  I think he is trying to protect people from me.  Thinking that I will hurt others the way I have hurt him.  I would rather die than hurt others, but how can I make sure that I never hurt anyone ever again?  Ask my wife, she will tell you that isn’t possible for me.

If I need to be a crazy cult leader in the mind of the hater, so be it.  He’s probably right, I used to be an authoritarian, power hungry, douchebag.  Because I was insecure, and it was all I had been modeled in the religious machine that I was in.  He is also right in saying that I delete his comments, block him from my social media, as well as from my phone.  Because I am shielding myself from worshipping the hate.  I feel harassed and don’t want to lash out.  I have read everything he sent, parts are true, parts are not true, but they are true to him, and that's all that matters.

I’m sorry Crashandburn611, I hope you can forgive me.  I hope you can be free of the hate, but I will not try to defend myself.

My mom always said that there would be haters. Not everyone can love ya.
— Joel Madden

Last January the crew of believers I live life with took the whole month to rest from any scheduled activity together.  To simply pull back and take a look at our lives and see if this was still something we were supposed to be doing together.  During that time, I really felt that it was time for me to pull away from “leading" anything.  I began to realize that me being me was only helpful to a few folks in the group.  Me being me actually made them love Jesus more, I was helpful to them, and they were helpful to me.  But others in the group, although not outspokenly, were constantly frustrated by me, and probably hated me.

So I asked them, "Can I step away from leading?  Can I just be normal?  Can I be someone who hurts?  Who fears?  Who is broken?  I think that's how I can best serve you guys?"

After a sigh of relief from a lot of them…everyone let me step away.  The handful of guys that me being myself actually helped, agreed that the 5 of us should be more intentional about being together because doing so was helpful to them and me.

This move has changed my life.  I can now be myself and know that I am helping someone else.  I can now just be a part of the family, and not feel like I have to create, build, or lead anything.  It has helped my marriage because I’m no longer “leader Zac”.  I’m just Zac.  Flawed, fucked up, annoying, loud, bold, and boisterous, yes, but just Zac.

It’s then that I felt I should move forward with this podcast.  I felt such a relief in just being me.  The me that people either love or hate, but nonetheless just me.

Love your haters - they’re your biggest fans.
— Kanye West

Whenever you make a move towards change in your life, there are going to be people that will get upset. In fact they may get violently angry, they may get quietly gossipy, they may aggressively attack you.

This happens for many reasons.  For one, you are now becoming something different then they view you as.  That's hard for some people because they think they know you.  They've been able to categorize you in a place in their mind that they're comfortable with, and now you're breaking that box, and it disturbs their reality. 

A second reason people don't like it when we change.  It challenges them to change.  First they have to change their view of you.  That creates a discomfort inside others.  They can either look at your change as something healthy for you, but not for them.  Or, because of our American competitiveness they may look at you as a threat to their current reality, which they don't want to change.  This causes them to have to make you out to be the enemy or the crazy one in their mind.  So that they can stay where they want to be and remain sane, proving to themselves that they're right.  At least in their own eyes.  This is human nature.

I know this first hand because I used to do that to people.  I still battle the internal feelings to do that today.  But I quickly move from that, remembering that what is my way, or what I need is not what everyone needs.  That God is bigger than me, and is with everyone, not just with me and my ways.

I’ve learned that good change in my life never happens in levels, or rungs on a latter.  The best changes in my life have come horizontally not vertically.  Restfully decending, not striving or climbing. We have a tendency as Americans to think we are successful because we climb higher than others, we take more risks, so that makes us better people.  WHAT FUCKING BULLSHIT!

The best changes in my life have come from within me.  Me recognizing that I am no better or worse than others.  That there is nothing I do or don't do that makes me a better person.  The best change in my life came when I understood that it's not about climbing. It's about resting; it's about BEING.

You hear me say on the podcast often, that I just want to be normal. That's my language for BEING.  Normal.  I've climbed a lot in the past, and while climbing I hurt people like Crashandburn611.  I've learned that just because I want something, doesn't mean everyone else has to want it.  That just because I want to be somewhere doesn't mean someone else has to go with me. 

In fact, trying to take someone to where I feel that I am supposed to go, when they don’t want to go, or shouldn’t go because it’s not for them, only hurts them.

You can’t take someone beyond where they are willing to go.  If you try, they will only blame you for the scars caused by you dragging them.

I have hurt people in the past…willingly?  Not usually.  Most of the time is was me thinking I knew what was best for their life, so I persisted in trying to “help” them.  This is the nature of religion!  Forcing what you think is best onto others.  Forcing what has been best for you, onto to someone else that it may not be the best for them.  Just because it is best for you right now doesn’t mean it is the best for them, or that it will ever be what's best for them.

As people, we each need to find our way.  We need to give each other the freedom to find our way.

To all those, that I once forced my ways upon.  I am deeply sorry.  I hope you can forgive me, not for my sake, but for yours.  I am not worthy to be worshiped in the way that hatred makes us worship people and things.  Nothing and no one on this planet are worthy of that worship.  So fuck em, forgive em, and let them go.

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Zac Gandara

CounterCulture Society, 1605 12th Ave Ste 19, Seattle, WA 98122